There are many charity events in Los Angeles. It’s part of the reason LA is such a special city. Hollywood is always giving back in some way and I’ve been impressed with how generous celebrities are with their time. Last week I went to an event that really stood out for me and changed the way I look at these events permanently. The Style and Beauty Suite at the Avalon Hollywood hosted by Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior Project is an organization that puts action first and our wounded U.S. soldiers home from war their top priority. I saw first-hand what a real difference a group like this can make.
“Everything we do at Wounded Warrior Project is built around honoring and empowering this generation’s injured service members, whether that be through our nineteen different programs or through events like the Style and Beauty Suite,” stated Adam Silva, chief developing officer of WWP. What impressed me personally was being on the red carpet and interviewing the soldiers and military families, hearing their stories and how WWP helped them. Tracy and Matt Kiel have been involved in WWP for seven years after WWP showed up at Matt’s bedside two days after he arrived at Walter Reed Hospital. Matt was on a ventilator, unconscious and paralyzed. WWP made sure they were there to support the Kiel family every step of the way. Seeing the Kiel’s smiling, confident, attractive and vibrant faces at the event, it was easy to see the impact WWP had on their lives. Through their network of support, WWP rebuilds soldier’s lives and dreams.
The event was star-studded and the passion these celebrities and sponsors have for Wounded Warrior Project is equally inspiring. Kate Linder from The Young and the Restless has supported many WWP events as well as participated in four USO tours. She feels strongly about giving back to these people who serve and protect our freedom. “Soldiers get forgotten…what you believe about the war doesn’t matter. We need to keep vigilant and raise awareness about the wounded soldiers. Sometimes they can’t just pick up where they left off at home.” Gloria Loring was earnest in her observation, “As Americans we feel compelled to do what we can, be a loving presence and listen.” WWP fills that role, supporting the soldiers emotionally and sometimes physically. Norbie Lara, a WWP alumni who lost his arm in a 2004 firefight in Iraq, was introduced to golf through the program. Golf has now become his hobby and passion, “I love it when golfers realize they’ve just been beaten by a one armed man!”
The atmosphere at The Style and Beauty Suite was upbeat and festive. The idea for this event is to recognize the service these soldiers have done by pampering them and their families like the celebrities they truly are. Guests were treated to spa treatments from Spa Del Rey, The Oscar Blandi team gave blowouts and hair styling services, SheaMoisture hosted BLOGbarberlounge for men’s grooming and classic shaves and Raw Skin Ceuticals gifted products from their line of chemical-free and cruelty-free products. I met many sponsors who only participate in this gifting suite because they feel so strongly about this organization and the work they do. Among many cool jewelry lines, one that stood out for me was Ali’s Jewelry Collection, created with semi-precious stones and inspired by travel and being a global citizen. The owner and creator Alicia Mohr flew in from Chicago to support Wounded Warrior Project.
More notable sponsors were bkr: minimalist, clean glass water bottles, BuggyLOVE: hip, safe organic cleaning products designed for use on strollers and other baby apparati, Dearfoams: soft, cozy yet stylish slippers for men and women, DeVita International’s cosmeceuticals: organic aloe vera based, vegan and paraben-free skin care, Packit: the coolest cooler around – freeze the wine, sandwich, salad or baby bottle bags and they stay cold for ten hours, SheaMoisture: started by the CEO’s great grandmother, the recipe has been handed down for generations and we get the moisturizing benefit of this shea butter lotion and last but not least Ulysses Press: a small but fantastic publisher of my favorite item – BOOKS. “There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book”, according to Patti Smith.
Mingling around the party, I ran into some friends I knew. Lauren from bkr flew down from San Francisco to be a part of this special cause. Courtenay Taylor, the voice of Ada Wong, was there enjoying the deerfoam slippers and was visibly moved by the videos and speeches. Marisa Coughlan, an actress, brought her new baby Ireland and her mother to be a part of the party. Taking in the room I saw many soldiers and their families smiling, receiving gifts and being treated like royalty. As they should be. That’s what this day and WWP is all about. A day where the forgotten are no longer forgotten, awareness is raised while lives are celebrated and a community of wounded warriors band together to reaffirm their commitment to this country and each other.
Natalie Compagno has traveled to over eighty countries and writes for numerous international travel publications. She loves living near W. 3rd Street in Los Angeles and has also lived in San Francisco, New York and for a brief, wonderful summer in France. She owns Traveler’s Bookcase, a renowned travel bookstore in Los Angeles, with her husband Greg.